*This is just my opinion, my personal take on any given book, use as a reference. I will not be overly gushing. I will also endeavor not to give too much of the plot away.
I will not hand out 4 star ratings for every book.*
Harlequin Historical, November 2009~280 pages
Three stories are included in this anthology of new Christmas tales (I say new, because there is a habit of repacking these Xmas stories, as Harlequin did with the Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, Courtney Milan Christmas book 'The Heart of Xmas'. I got it for Christmas, started reading the Balogh story, and thought, 'I read this before!' I was disappointed. It does state so on the back cover, but this was from my hubby, he didn't know I read 2 of these stories before, anyway, this is for another review, just a word of warning, investigate carefully before buying these Xmas anthologies, you may have read them before!)
Back to this book, The first story 'Scarlet Ribbons' by Lyn Stone was an enjoyable read, the back cover said 'battle scarred' I thought he might be disfigured, was a little disappointing to read it was a banged up leg. The heroine has her own issues with walking, and with past heartbreaks in common, this couple has a lot to deal with. I guessed the plot way before I got to the conclusion, but it did not deter from my reading enjoyment. Alex Napier, the big Scotman, is appealing and endearing, the heroine Amalie, brash and engaging.
The second story, was my favorite. 'Christmas Promise' by Carla Kelly. This moved me, very much, really got my emotions in play, and how I longed this was a full-length novel. Yes, it was that good. And how bloody refreshing to read about a Post-Captain, not some aristocrat, for once. Captain Jeremiah Faulk was a breath of fresh air. I kept picturing a young, handsome Gregory Peck, as he was in the 1953 movie 'Captain Hornblower' for Jeremiah.
Miah is flummoxed, after 22 years at sea, peace breaks out, what does he do with himself? At 38, he has no home or family. A chance meeting with 2 children leads him to a woman he knew (and secretly loved) years before, a woman who married his best friend and fellow naval officer. Now widowed, Ianthe (great name!) is impoverished with 2 older children. Watching these two friends move toward something more lasting was a real tug at the heartstrings. Yes, I teared up.
Diane Gaston just released a book a couple of months back (HH) about a soldier/ordinary guy. (Gallant Officer/Forbidden Lady) I like this trend, hope it keeps up.
The third story was 'A Little Christmas' by Gail Ranstrom, I found this embodied the spirit of Christmas quite well, family, the importance of said family at Christmas, and of course, love.
Viscount Selwick is there performing a duty for his father's former friend/investor, the final will of the heroine's late Uncle Oliver Pettibone. Sophia, the said heroine, is a delight, and quickly (maybe too quickly, LOL!) captures the heart of Lord Selwick. I felt the Viscount a little stale, but he proved to be passionate in the end. A nice back story, and a twist I did not envision.
All in all, I would give this 3 and a quarter stars out of 4. With the second story really selling it for me.
KOVER KUDOS: Yuck, I don't like this cover at all. It does not fit ANY of the stories, what in the heck is a baby doing on the cover? I am not one of these people that likes 'baby romances', and the sight of some shirtless hunk holding a baby does not make me go all gooey. LOL!
What would I have done? Glad you asked! LOL! I would have stuffed some cover model hunk, say....Nathan...LOL! in full Naval uniform, standing beside a humble cottage, with a humble woman in equally humble clothing, looking up at him adoringly, her two children standing in the background. But, that is just me!!
I give this cover barely 1 out of four stars. Why that high? I like the look of the male model, his profile is lovely, the smile, engaging. At least there is an Xmas wreath in the picture.